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Magistrates Courts – how they operate

Virtually all-criminal cases start in the Magistrates courts.

The less serious offences are handled entirely in the magistrates court.

Over 95% of all cases are dealt with in this way. The more serious offences are passed on to the Crown Court, to be dealt with by a judge and jury.

Magistrates deal with three kinds of cases:

  • Summary offences. These are less serious cases, such as motoring offences and minor assaults, where the defendant is not entitled to trial by jury.
  • Either-way offences. As the name implies, these can be dealt with either by the magistrates or before a judge and jury at the Crown Court.
  • Such offences include theft and handling stolen goods.

A suspect can insist on their right to trial in the Crown Court. Similarly, magistrates can decide that a case is sufficiently serious that it should be dealt with in the Crown Court – which can impose tougher punishments.

Indictable – only offences, such as:

These must be heard at a Crown Court.

If the case is an indictable only offence, the involvement of the Magistrates Court is brief. A decision will be made on whether to grant bail and other legal issues, like reporting restrictions, will be considered.

The case will then be passed to the Crown Court.

If the case is to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, the defendant will have to enter a plea.

If they plead guilty or if they are later found to be guilty, the magistrates can impose a sentence of up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000.
If the defendant is found not guilty (if they are acquitted), they are judged innocent in the eyes of the law and should be free to go – provided there are no other cases against them outstanding.

Cases are heard either by three lay magistrates or one District Judge.
The lay magistrates, or Justices of the Peace, as they are also known, are local people who volunteer their services.
They don’t have formal legal qualifications, but are given legal and procedural advice by qualified clerks.
District Judges are legally qualified, paid, full-time professionals and are usually based in the larger cities.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail

To see an article about a case at Brent Magistrates court, click here


November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , | 1 Comment

Brent youth stays in jail rather than take early exit

Brent Magistrates Court in Willesden, North West London

Brent Magistrates Court in Neasden, North West London

By Andria Greaves

A 21 year-old Somalian from Alperton has been remanded in custody after his plea for bail was refused.

Brent Magistrates heard how on the 21st October this year, two cars had been broken into around 4.30am on St John’s Road, off Wembley High Road.

When the second vehicle was robbed of its Satellite Navigation – commonly known as Sat Navs – its owner was woken by the noise of the car alarm and saw Sayeed Ismail next to the vehicle. Police arrested him when he was boarding the number N18 bus outside Primark, Wembley. When searched, police found two Sat Nav devices identical to the ones reported missing.

Mr Ismail, of no fixed abode, has constantly declined to have a legal representative to stand for him. He’s adamant he was given the Sat Navs that he was caught with by a friend called Z, saying: “I don’t know his address or where he lives. Anyway he won’t turn up.”

When told that Z could be summoned to testify, Mr Ismail said: “ I know he’s a thief, so there’s no point in trying to get him here!”

When Mr Ismail denied the allegation, he was give the chance to have the case heard in a Crown Court but decided he would prefer to have the case held in the same magistrates court, adding: “Yeah boss, I’d rather have it heard here, get it over and done with boss.”

During his application of bail, Mr Ismail, who wore a dark blue t-shirt with a white and red logo on front with white collars around the arms and grey jogging trousers, kept saying: “I ain’t done nuttin wrong boss.”

The CPS stated there were grounds to reject bail for Mr Ismail, which was upheld by the court.

Mr Ismail, who denies the charges, is remanded in custody. The case is suspended until 9.30am the 22nd December 2008.

To find out how Magistrates court operate, click here

If you want to know more about me, don’t hesitate to contact me or view my personal blog by clicking here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Barack Obama: The next President of the USA

Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya.


He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.

Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.

•    Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas.
•    Her father worked on oilrigs during the Depression.
•    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army.
•    Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line.
•    After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.


Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii.

At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East–West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue PhD studies and then returned to Kenya.


His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East–West Center student from Indonesia.

In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born.

Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language.


Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as “Barry”) was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995).

•    He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979.
•    He was only one of three black students at the school.
•    This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American.


In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.

He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced.

•    He admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.
•    After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years.
•    He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science.


After working at Business International Corporation (a company that provided international business information to corporate clients) and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985.

There, he worked as a community organizer with low-income residents in Chicago’s Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s South Side.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail:

For more information about the journalist who said what he thought, click here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diwali: A brief history

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety.

The festival is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives.

The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way.

Naraka Chaturdasi

The celebration of the four-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya.

The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

‘Puranas’ have it that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance.


He soon unleashed a reign of terror in the kingdom of Kamarupa, harassing celestial beings with his invincible might.

•    Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture.
•    But Naraka could not be easily killed as he had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi.
•    So, Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka.

When Krishna feigns unconsciousness after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Satyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly.

Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi.


The slaying of Naraka by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they stray on to the wrong path.

The message of Naraka Chaturdasi is that the good of the society should always prevail over one’s own personal bonds.

The second day is Amavasya when Lakshmi puja is performed.

It is believed that on this day Goddess Lakshmi would be in her benevolent mood and fulfill the wishes of her devotees.


One version says that it was on this day that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagara (Ocean of Milk) when the Gods and demons were churning the sagara (ocean) for nectar (Amrit)

The other version is that when Lord Vishnu in the guise of Vamana, sought three feet of land from the generous demon king Bali, the latter had to surrender his head as Vamana had conquered the earth and the sky in two strides.

•    Lord Vishnu banishes Bali into the Pathala Loka (netherland) by keeping his third stride on Bali’s head.
•    Later, pleased by his generosity, Lord Vishnu grants him a boon and he in turn requests the Lord to guard his palace at Pathala Loka.


Meanwhile, the Goddess is unable to bear the separation and her grief affects the functioning of the entire universe.

Brahma and Lord Shiva offer themselves as guards and plead with Bali to relieve Vishnu.

So, on the Amavasya day, Lord Vishnu returns to his abode and Goddess Lakshmi is delighted.

It is believed that those who worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day would be bestowed with all the riches.


The third day is “Kartika Shudda Padyami.” On this day Bali would come out of Pathala Loka and rule Bhuloka as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu.

Hence, it is also known as “Bali Padyami”.

•    The fourth day is referred to as “Yama Dvitiya.” On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

•    However, in the northern part of India it is celebrated as the return of Ram along with Sita and Lakshman from his 14 years of exile after killing Ravana.


To commemorate his return to Ayodhya, his subjects illuminated the kingdom and burst crackers.

For the Gujaratis, Marwaris and other business community Diwali marks the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and also the beginning of the new financial year.

For Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali or Durga. The Goddess Durga continued her “Vilaya Tandava” even after killing demon Mahishasura.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail:

To find out about Diwali in Harrow, click here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , | Leave a comment